THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT HIM
This article is how others start down that path. Most don't "get illegal" but they sure can be "unethical" IMO.
To me there are 3 kinds of relevant behaviors in genealogy blogs or genealogy related sites:
- The first are those who are doing what in my view are ILLEGAL activities - out and out copying of others original work and taking credit for it. The legal system has to take care of this issue, which is a pain for the original author unfortunately. Nothing more needs to be said about this abhorrent behavior.
- The second are those who are APATHETIC. These are folks who do not include detailed citations and footnotes in their articles that may include full references to others work. They might attribute the work via a link to an original post as well as naming the original author, both of which pass the "ethics test" in my view. But a detailed citation is not included. Want to see how it should be done? Two that I read frequently are Michael Hait and Judy Russell. They always have detailed citations and are great role models. Full disclosure - I consider myself apathetic in this regard. If you do not think that full citations are necessary please don't inundate me with comments since this article is not about blog citations. As long as you attribute, everything is cool ethics wise in my opinion. And I already said I am apathetic about these citations.
- The third are those that are UNETHICAL - this article is about them, and is a bit of a rant because they tick me off - and they tick others off as well, but the behavior is too common.
So what constitutes UNETHICAL or borderline unethical behavior? Here are three examples and one example that is not:
- You write an original blog post. You are quite proud of it. Someone takes your link, writes an intro but does not mention your name as the author and posts it on their Facebook page. So it appears that THEY have written the original post. Of course, if someone clicks the link AND you have your name on the blog page where the post appears then at least you get the traffic and folks see that you wrote it. BUT most blog authors do not have their name as the author prominently displayed. So the person who took your link and wrote his own intro in a sneaky way gets the "credit."
- Naked linking - actually is not unethical because by not having an intro it is usually obvious that the person posting the link say in a Facebook Group or on G+ is NOT the author. I still don't like it though. I like intros.
- Borrowing someone else's idea or writings and thoroughly scrambling or adding to it, which makes it look like your own may not pass the "illegal" test but it sure passes the "unethical" test.
- But here is the behavior that really torques me - you write a blog post about a new genealogy related technology or a new website that you have found that would be helpful to many others. You do the research and spend the time writing and proudly publish your article and make the links available on Social Media. Then some yo-yo reads your post - writes his own post - includes the link to NOT your post, but to the newly found website or technology company's url directly and makes no mention that they found the information from you. I see this on a few Facebook Pages from some not to be named genealogists all the time.
The folks who do this need to be called out. Every time you see it - send them a private message This does not have to be a public thrashing. It is totally unfair to the original author and creator of the article. Besides being bad manners it is out and out unethical.
We are not naive - we know that we do not own these links that we have found. All we ask is that you attribute the original post or idea to the original author.
What is ATTRIBUTION? It is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the ascribing of a work (as of literature or art) to a particular author or artist."
Although I may be apathetic as defined above by not including full blown citations in my articles, I am NOT unethical - I always attribute. Think about it - do you?
Be fair to your colleagues - give them credit - they worked for it. ATTRIBUTE! Use THEIR link; quote them as the AUTHOR. It is that simple.